October 29, 2002

Team RadiKS posted another FoBiK

Team RadiKS posted another FoBiK writeup. This one's really good, since they wrote most of it as they were playing. It gives you a great idea of what goes through our minds as we're in the middle of a Game.

I actually thought of doing something similar for FoBiK -- I was going to put a copy of Radio on my PowerBook and blog the Game live. The catch, of course, is that other teams could use it to catch up to us. Perhaps I'll try to set something up for the next Game that time-delays my posts. We'll see.

Posted at 12:21 AM | Disclaimer

If you think that modern

If you think that modern art is simply too weird for you to appreciate it, take a look at Styrogami. Styrogami might be more interesting in a general sense than artistically beautiful, but either way, there's something intrinsically pleasing about the concept of taking a generic styrofoam cup and turning it into something visually appealing.

The Boston Globe has an article about the man behind the art form. He apparently started it all while bored in a meeting at work many years ago....

Posted at 12:05 AM | Disclaimer

October 28, 2002

Neil Gaiman is having computer

Neil Gaiman is having computer problems. Here's a quote from today's entry in his journal:
    The computer saga. So far, today has brought a computer-generated e-mail from Dell letting me know that their artificial intelligence unit has scanned my problem report (the computer is completely dead) and it suspects that I may be having keyboard problems. It offers several solutions to a sticky or problematic keyboard and hopes that I am now happy. If that doesn't solve my problems I should reply again. I've replied again.

    Several of you have suggested I switch to a Mac. Although, on reflection, many of the Macs I have known in my life have demonstrated a capacity to go wrong in strange and interesting ways that PCs are still struggling for.

    Personally I am much more inclined to switch to a pen and paper. I would no longer be emailable, people would have to write me actual letters. I wouldn't even post this journal for you to read any longer. Instead, people would come round to your house in the morning and recite it to you, with appropriate and meaningful gestures, and to the delight of your neighbours.

Posted at 11:23 PM | Disclaimer

The New York Times mentions

The New York Times mentions that absentee ballots in Minnesota that are returned with votes for Paul Wellstone won't count as votes for whomever is named to replace him...but those same ballots will count if they contain votes for Norm Coleman.

Something seems very wrong about that. You'll have potentially thousands of ballots which will be filled out by voters believing their vote will be counted, when in fact it won't be...but it only won't be counted if they voted for a specific person. I can't imagine how that's legal. At the same time, you can't legitimately assume that every vote for Wellstone is a vote for his replacement. And there's simply not enough time to reprint absentee ballots and mail the new copies out to every voter. So I'm not sure what a good solution is, but failing to count certain ballots unless they're votes for Norm Coleman can't be the best option.

Posted at 12:35 AM | Disclaimer

October 27, 2002

Congratulations to the Anaheim Angels,

Congratulations to the Anaheim Angels, who beat the San Francisco Giants tonight to win Game 7 of a terrific World Series. I didn't know who to root for in the Series -- the Angels, who had gone so long without once winning a world championship, or the Giants, with Barry Bonds and Dusty Baker so deserving of a win. In the end, it was a hard-fought battle, and the Giants came oh-so-close to winning before the Angels rallied late in Game 6.

Of course, the most important thing about the Series was that the Yankees didn't take part. Without them in the running, I didn't really have anyone to root against.

Posted at 10:42 PM | Disclaimer

October 26, 2002

A week after FoBiK, the

A week after FoBiK, the writeups are starting to appear online. The best I've seen so far is from Stephanie of Team Pandamonium. Meanwhile, I just posted our pictures from Team Mystic Fish. Enjoy!
Posted at 07:59 PM | Disclaimer

October 25, 2002

Paul Wellstone died today, under

Paul Wellstone died today, under circumstances eerily reminiscent of the death of Mel Carnahan just before the 2000 elections. Though my views are probably closer to Carnahan's than to Wellstone's, Wellstone's passing is harder to accept. I had a lot of respect for him -- his staunch liberalism in the face of an America political spectrum in which anything left of the center is grounds for attack ads felt refreshing and honest. To quote Dan Gillmor of the San Jose Mercury News: "You didn't have to agree with [Wellstone's] stands all the time -- no one could -- to honor his commitment to justice in a society that has all but abandoned the very notion."

Of course, it's hardly possible to start mourning Wellstone's death without recognizing what it could mean for the American political landscape. Wellstone's opponent this fall is Norm Coleman, a former Democrat whom I also respect. As moderate as Coleman may be, however, if he defeats Wellstone's replacement in ten days, chances are that both houses of Congress and the White House will be Republican. The consequences of that result are frightening -- two or more spots on the Supreme Court are likely to open up in the next two years, and they'd both be filled with conservatives. At the same time, it'd be much easier for conservative legislation to be pushed through Congress. I can only hope that moderate Republicans -- Rhode Island's Lincoln Chafee and others -- will have enough strength to block the conservative agenda that mainstream America doesn't want.

Posted at 10:56 PM | Disclaimer

October 24, 2002

I'm watching Ali Ozer's "Cocoa

I'm watching Ali Ozer's "Cocoa API Techniques" from this year's WWDC. It's interesting to notice how many of the techniques he mentions -- strategies for using immutable objects, appropriate conditions for subclassing, the requirement that object equality be symmetric (and maintain its full equivalence relation), etc. -- are true for Java as well. In fact, I'm cross-referencing his slides with sections in Joshua Bloch's absolutely fantastic Effective Java. Ozer and Bloch are talking about two different languages, but the concepts are almost exactly the same.
Posted at 10:01 PM | Disclaimer

mpt points to an interesting

mpt points to an interesting interview of Marissa Mayer, who I know from my time as a section leader and TA at Stanford. The interview's about user experience issues at Google, and it really shows that Google understands how UI should work on the Internet -- that a simple interface is easy to understand and use, and that the annoyance of flashy ads makes them less likely to be clicked on than ads which are relevant to the information the user is interested in. I wonder how long it'll be before other companies follow Google's lead in UI design.
Posted at 09:17 AM | Disclaimer

The MacHack call for papers

The MacHack call for papers went out today. I have a number of ideas, but I'll probably wait at least a few weeks before I sit down and figure out what I'm going to propose to write.
Posted at 12:43 AM | Disclaimer

About three weeks ago, I

About three weeks ago, I posted a changes that add exactly the features I'm looking for. Hopefully I'll be able to find some time this weekend to test the patch and make sure it works.
Posted at 12:36 AM | Disclaimer

Transmit 2.0 was released today,

Transmit 2.0 was released today, so Mac OS X finally has a good FTP client. When Transit 1.0 came out in the fall of 1998 (its name was later changed due to confusion with another company's product), I couldn't believe how much better it looked than all the other FTP clients I'd ever seen, so I registered it the first day it was out. Over time I became less satisfied with it -- it didn't support MacBinary and didn't work with certain FTP servers -- but it was still my FTP client of choice. I'm less impressed with Transmit 2.0 now, but only because I was spoiled with the UI of the first version. The new release isn't revolutionary, but I'm very excited to see a good-looking and easy-to-use FTP client that seems to improve over its prior version in a number of ways. I've gladly once again registered it on the first day it's been available.
Posted at 12:16 AM | Disclaimer

October 23, 2002

MacAddict reviews ThinkFree Office and

MacAddict reviews ThinkFree Office and gives it four stars out of five. I keep seeing more and more people looking at ThinkFree and a number of them are using it in place of Word and Excel. It's great to see a Java application finally succeeding on the desktop.
Posted at 11:49 PM | Disclaimer

Searching for patent law at

Searching for patent law at Stanford's search site lists this page above Larry Lessig's. Weird.
Posted at 11:42 PM | Disclaimer

Looks like the Direct Marketing

Looks like the Direct Marketing Association has decided to support legislation designed to limit spam. They only support opt-out legislation rather than the more consumer-friendly opt-in. I actually don't have a problem with that as long as there's a small number of registries where I can sign up to opt out. Similar legislation has been very successful at the state level -- Pennsylvania's opt-out law, for example, has seen well over a million people sign up.

The sad thing is that federal anti-spam legislation will do very little to stem the tide of most unsolicited email. These days I typically get about twenty spam messages a day, and of those only two or three are from servers in the U.S. I get an exorbitant amount of Korean spam, but also some from other Asian countries, as well as Spain and Poland. There's practically nothing Congress can do about foreign spam, so for that I'll depend on things like Stanford's soon-to-be-implemented server-side spam filters.

Posted at 11:39 PM | Disclaimer

October 22, 2002

It seems Radio was nice

It seems Radio was nice enough to lose the note that I posted here yesterday. Wonderful. Fortunately, it wasn't too long -- just a comment on how I had fun at FoBiK and a rant about the seven hours I spent at the San Jose airport yesterday trying to fly home. And now, after all of that and a tiring day at work today, I'm going to sleep.
Posted at 07:47 PM | Disclaimer

October 18, 2002

Today's New York Times includes

Today's New York Times includes an obituary for Allen Read, an English professor who traced the true origin of American colloquialisms such as OK, Podunk, Dixie, and countless more. It's a fascinating tale, and I'm sorry to only have heard of him after his death.
Posted at 05:38 PM | Disclaimer

October 17, 2002

Apple is giving Mac OS

Apple is giving Mac OS X away for free to any K-12 teacher in the U.S. That's pretty terrific. I hope the program turns out to be a wild success. I also wonder how long it'll take Microsoft to match the offer.
Posted at 09:28 AM | Disclaimer

I'm off to California till

I'm off to California till Monday morning, playing in FoBiK on Team Mystic Fish. It's been a year and a half since I last played in a Game -- I played in 420 in April 2001 -- and I'm really looking forward to playing in another one.
Posted at 04:35 AM | Disclaimer

My last note ties in

My last note ties in really well to a theme that Ed Felten has been following over the past couple of days: That those in Hollywood and the government who are trying to regulate the use of digital media online somehow believe that you can make a computer something other than a general-purpose machine -- that you can keep a computer from doing A while still allowing it to do B. Today, Felten posted an analogy from one of his readers that will hopefully allow non-technical people to better understand the impossibility of those efforts:

"Trying to design a limited-purpose computer is like trying to design a limited-purpose spoken language. Imagine trying to design a language that can express only some thoughts but not others."

Felten then followed up with a reminder he received from Seth Schoen that Newspeak from George Orwell's 1984 was supposed to be incapable of expressing certain thoughts. I agree with Ed that Newspeak is likely an impossible construction, but the Cyber Patrol example that I mention below has me wondering about that view, at least as far as written communication is concerned. Cyber Patrol happens to be a poorly implemented piece of software, but it's not difficult to see how a talented group of programmers could write something which would do on-the-fly grammar and word checks to remove certain phrases, even catching alternate spellings like the ones Gennick suggests at the end of his article.

Extend that with a somewhat better language recognition system -- AI researchers are improving those all the time -- and you could potentially excise whole categories of thoughts from written communication. The result? A close approximation to Newspeak is a technological possibility on the Internet. It wouldn't be 100% perfect, but neither is web filtering software (like Cyber Patrol), and that hasn't stopped many parents, schools, and libraries from using it. If the software was sufficiently widespread -- say, if the entire world used one operating system and the software was built into that system and couldn't be disabled -- then you'd effectively banish prohibited words and phrases to a subculture that would have to use continuously changing codes to work around the restrictions.

Posted at 12:22 AM | Disclaimer

Jonathan Gennick reports that Cyber

Jonathan Gennick reports that Cyber Patrol, a filtering package, can be set to "protect" kids from certain bad words by monitoring all keystrokes and replacing sequences of letters that match those words with asterisks. This is impressively silly. It's one thing to keep a child from seeing a web page that he inadvertently stumbled into, but it's another to tell him that he can't type a word that he knows...or that if he happens to mistakenly type a bad word, that the word is so taboo that he can't even type it. That'll just make him that much more likely to wonder what the word is, and it'll make many kids more likely to use the words that get flagged. Top that off with stupidly designed software that replaces the second through fifth letters of "is hitting" with asterisks and you've got a much worse problem on your hands than you would if you didn't have the software in the first place.
Posted at 12:15 AM | Disclaimer

October 16, 2002

I tried Mailsmith very briefly

I tried Mailsmith very briefly and quickly decided not to use it. It's powerful, but I really dislike the user interface, and it doesn't appear to support a number of things that I've come to depend on in Eudora -- pressing the space bar to open the next unread message, opening all mailboxes that just received mail, editing signatures, and more. Perhaps it has some of these features, but if so, they're not trivial to find. It definitely has some advantages over Eudora, but not enough to get me to use it.

I then decided to test Eudora 5.1.1. After removing the "UPPERlower Carbon" plugin that breaks on 10.2, it launched without a hitch. It seems to be working well so far. In fact, it's working really well -- it somehow found all of the mail that Eudora 5.2b10 had swallowed. I'm very impressed. I think I'll stick with it for now.

Posted at 01:10 AM | Disclaimer

In six years of using

In six years of using Eudora, I've never once had it lose any mail before tonight. I installed Eudora 5.2b10 over the weekend when I upgraded my PowerBook to Mac OS X 10.2 because 5.2b10 is the first Eudora release that officially supports 10.2.

Tonight, I downloaded my mail and only because I watch my mail as I receive it during the day (though I don't read most of it till I come home at night) do I know that some email didn't make the transfer from my mail server to my computer, but it did get deleted from the server. I'm not happy. In fact, I'm very much not happy. I think I'm going to give Mailsmith a shot. We'll see how it goes.

Posted at 12:02 AM | Disclaimer

October 15, 2002

Slashdot reports that eWeek reports

Slashdot reports that eWeek reports that Apple will add support for a journaling file system with the next update to Mac OS X, version 10.2.2. While Apple's likely to add journaling support to its systems some day, I can't imagine them doing so in a dot-dot release of the operating system. I'll be very surprised if this feature isn't held until 10.3 is ready.
Posted at 11:52 PM | Disclaimer

October 14, 2002

Shouts out to Sha Sha,

Shouts out to Sha Sha, who in getting her own domain and designing her own site is clearly demonstrating her technical superiority over the rest of us mere mortals. And to think that she doesn't think she has an RSS feed, but Movable Type sets one up by default and NetNewsWire found it without any problems. Ha!

Oh, and she just linked to me, too. I think that's four now and counting. Yay! At this rate everyone in the world will link to this page within only about a billion and a half years, I think. Thank goodness I'm patient.

Posted at 11:45 PM | Disclaimer

October 13, 2002

I'm a big fan of

I'm a big fan of FoxTrot. This past Thursday's comic shows why.
Posted at 04:24 AM | Disclaimer

Excited that you've just received

Excited that you've just received a promotion in title even though your pay isn't changing? That could actually be a bad thing in Pennsylvania, where a number of school districts charge taxes on the based on job titles. Apparently the principle is derived from 17th-century British law and has managed to remain alive in 21st-century Pennsylvania.
Posted at 01:33 AM | Disclaimer

October 12, 2002

Shouts out to Brian Palmer,

Shouts out to Brian Palmer, who just joined the lengthy list of people -- now three, I believe -- who link to this page.
Posted at 09:26 PM | Disclaimer

I randomly came across the

I randomly came across the GNOME Usability Project's list of references just now and noticed a link to a Windows User Experience page at Microsoft. That was a pleasant surprise -- Microsoft generally isn't known for user experience work.

Curious, I followed the link and came to an overview page with only one interesting link, to the Microsoft Inductive User Interface Guidelines. I followed that and got a page not found error. Naturally.

Posted at 09:22 PM | Disclaimer

Larry Lessig returns to his

Larry Lessig returns to his blog with his thoughts on the arguments that he presented in Eldred v. Ashcroft earlier this week. He's optimistic, but worried that after four years of work, he might not win the case. His summary of the oral arguments is terrific -- it's rare to get a well-written in-depth description of the arguments before the Court from someone who really understands the nuances of oral arguments.
Posted at 01:11 PM | Disclaimer

The New York Times Sunday

The New York Times Sunday magazine has a story on the confused state of sexual harassment law. Apparently there's been a steady increase in male-on-male sexual harassment cases in the past few years, including many involving two heterosexual men. Theses cases are raising issues that those who wrote the sexual harassment laws didn't really consider, and it's caused a lot of division between federal appellate courts. The division was supposed to be settled by a 1998 Supreme Court case, but the Court's decision in that case leaves a lot of questions unanswered and opens up some interesting holes in the law. For example, harassers apparently can get off scot-free as long as they're equal-opportunity boors -- if they harass members of both genders, they're not harassing on the basis of sex even if their actions may be sexual in nature.

I suspect this and other problems with the law will cause the Supreme Court to hear another sexual harassment case before long. Read the Times piece for a number of interesting examples of the kinds of cases the Justices may have to resolve.

Posted at 12:34 PM | Disclaimer

The ad from the Montana

The ad from the Montana Senate campaign that caused Republican Mike Taylor to drop out this week is online. As far as political ads go, I really don't think it's all that bad. It's really just a standard attack ad without much backing for the allegations (at least, not much presented in the ad; I don't know the facts of the scandal it mentions). Perhaps it's the Californian in me, but I can't see how his clothes or the fact that he's giving a man a facial implies anything about his sexual preferences. I also can't see why a politician's sexual orientation should matter, but that's a separate issue.

Taylor's campaign has said that he dropped out due to the ad and because he had no money. If I were running his campaign, I would've been much more concerned about not having any money a month before the election than about any attack ad. You simply have to have money at the end of the race, or else you can't respond to your opponent's attacks. And time has shown that in competitive races, candidates who can't (or don't) respond to their opponent's attacks don't win. If Taylor's campaign staff didn't understand that, he wouldn't have won anyway, ad or no ad.

Posted at 12:34 AM | Disclaimer

October 11, 2002

Perhaps in connection to my

Perhaps in connection to my RetroVue debugger. I know Ronald from his many years on Apple's java-dev mailing list, but I never knew what he worked on until today. I wish I'd known about it earlier.

I'm extremely impressed with RetroVue. It's essentially everything that Bil Lewis is planning to implement, but it's available today. It looks like it's very well designed, and it's already received a rave review from James Gosling. The $995 price tag is steep for me as someone who doesn't write Java code for a living, but if I was being paid to code in Java, I'd jump at the chance to get a copy.

I wonder how long it'll be before Borland and other Java IDE vendors add similar functionality to the debuggers in their IDEs. RetroVue shows that omniscient debugging is possible, so it's only a matter of time before it's a standard feature.

Posted at 01:56 AM | Disclaimer

The New York Times has

The New York Times has an editorial praising Eldred's side in Eldred v. Ashcroft. My biggest concern after hearing the reports on Larry Lessig's arguments before the Supreme Court (which appear to have gone poorly, by the way) was the Court's apparent view that taking Eldred's side would result in the Court setting policy rather than ruling on law. It's tough to disagree with that viewpoint -- "for limited times" is a rather vague term, and it would be difficult to place a constraint on its meaning that doesn't seem arbitrary. Courts generally don't make arbitrary rulings; they leave those up to the legislature.

The Times argues that the Supreme Court has already made similar rulings regarding terms such as "cruel and unusual punishment" and "speedy trial". That's a good argument, and one which I hope the Justices will consider when deciding the case. I still don't think Eldred has much of a chance of winning, but the general disdain the Justices showed for Congress' repeated copyright extensions leaves me hopeful.

Posted at 12:44 AM | Disclaimer

October 10, 2002

There's a new book on

There's a new book on Cocoa written by a group of well-known Cocoa programmers -- Scott Anguish, Erik Buck, and Donald Yacktman. It's intended to be an advanced book, which means I'd probably find it worthwhile in a week or two after I finish the book I'm currently reading. The catch? It's 1272 pages. That's huge. I wonder why they decided to throw all of that material in one volume instead of splitting it into two or three separate books. I suppose that's less than The Java Class Libraries, vol. 2, which those of us on Apple's Java team carried around continuously for a few years, but but it's still larger than I'd like for a book that isn't solely intended to be a reference.
Posted at 10:25 AM | Disclaimer

Cocoa's key-value coding is very

Cocoa's key-value coding is very cool. The only other language that I've seen that has a similar feature is C#, whose properties are just as cool as key-value coding. Java could really use something like either of those features. Sun could add the feature without changing the JVM, so it shouldn't be difficult to make the change if it has sufficient support.
Posted at 12:13 AM | Disclaimer

October 09, 2002

Nicholas Riley mentions that Chimera

Nicholas Riley mentions that Chimera crashes in the Flash plugin when loading certain Macromedia ads on oreillynet.com. I've had the same problem with OmniWeb (which seems to crash every hour or two for me these days), but I hadn't tracked it down to Flash. I'll try removing the Flash plugin and see if things improve.
Posted at 03:38 AM | Disclaimer

I spent a while today

I spent a while today figuring out that vm_read (and vm_read_overwrite) on Mac OS X sometimes requires that its address parameter be page-aligned and that its size parameter be a multiple of the page size. This doesn't appear to be documented anywhere -- Apple doesn't include man pages for the Mach VM APIs -- which is why I'm mentioning it here. Hopefully Google will pick this up and then the rest of the world will now know how to use vm_read correctly.
Posted at 02:31 AM | Disclaimer

Katie has been kidnapped by

Katie has been kidnapped by overgrown ferrets. No wonder I haven't heard from her lately....
Posted at 01:13 AM | Disclaimer

The New Jersey Supreme Court

The New Jersey Supreme Court released their official decision [PDF] in the Torricelli case today. While I was strongly opposed to allowing the New Jersey Democratic Party to replace Torricelli on the ballot, I must say that I find the Court's arguments very persuasive. They convincingly reference a number of situations in which New Jersey's election laws which reference a number of days prior to an election as a deadline for certain actions have been bypassed, provide a powerful argument for having two serious candidates on the ballot, and include explicit references from laws of other states which that are both more and less stringent than New Jersey's.

After reading the opinion, not only am I not surprised that they ruled the way they did, but I understand why the opinion was unanimous. New Jersey precedents establish that elections are meant to be fair, at the expense of ignoring the technicalities of election law if necessary; state that voters should have as many viable candidates on the ballot as possible; and do not differentiate between a withdrawal due to illness or death and one due to political expediency. Though perhaps unfair to Doug Forrester, history is clear -- Lautenberg's name should be on the ballot. If the state wishes otherwise, the legislature can amend the law for future elections.

Posted at 12:40 AM | Disclaimer

Stanford is ending its Presidential

Stanford is ending its Presidential Scholars program. This is really a shame. I was chosen as a Presidential Scholar six years ago, and without the program I wouldn't have attended Stanford. In my case, the program meant two things -- first, that the University believed that I brought something special ("intellectual vitality", they called it) and second, that they would pay for a plane ticket for me to visit during Admit Weekend.

The first item was flattery, pure and simple, but it worked. It's always great to feel that you're wanted, and it's rare to get that feeling from a top school. The second item got me to visit the school, which I wouldn't have done otherwise. I'd still have considered attending, but without seeing the campus I almost certainly would have ended up at Brown instead.

The Presidential Scholars program also provided a guaranteed research grant that could be used for almost anything in the first two years (and summers) at Stanford. I didn't use my grant -- as a computer science major in the middle of the dot-com boom, it was hard to find anything that didn't also come with a substantial salary, so unfunded research opportunities were rare. Now, the cost of the grants and the lack of supervision for them is apparently the main reason for ending the program.

I'm sorry to see it go. I think there's still something to be said for targeting the students who the school believes will really contribute strongly to the intellectual spirit of the campus. At the same time, the program always felt a bit out of place -- everyone at Stanford is spectacular in some way (or many ways), so setting a select few aside was awkward.

At the same time, I was continuously amazed by the people with whom I'd have really interesting and thoughtful discussions who I'd later learn were Presidential Scholars. I'd like to think that a significant portion of students in the program really did help to increase the intellectual vitality to the campus beyond what it otherwise would have been. If the program made a difference in convincing those students to attend Stanford, it was worthwhile, and it'll be missed. On the other hand, if those students would have attended Stanford regardless, the University is better off without it.

Posted at 12:10 AM | Disclaimer

October 08, 2002

Larry Lessig will argue Eldred

Larry Lessig will argue Eldred v. Ashcroft before the U.S. Supreme Court tomorrow. He took some time out today to write about it. I wish him luck, and I sincerely hope he wins. Free the mouse!
Posted at 11:44 PM | Disclaimer

October 07, 2002

.NET Saves Boy Down Well:

.NET Saves Boy Down Well: "At his wit's end, Ottumwa Sherriff Buck Bettendorf contact[ed] Microsoft's head office in Redmond, Washington, hoping for a solution. Bettendorf spoke with Microsoft Solutions, who assured him that .NET could solve any problem he might encounter."
Posted at 04:03 AM | Disclaimer

Why doesn't anyone make a

Why doesn't anyone make a cute stuffed BSD daemon? I'd love to have one sitting on top of my monitor at work, but I can't find any online that look nearly as adorable as the standard images do.

For that matter, why aren't there any cute stuffed Hexleys available? I'd really like to have one of those, too. For Hexley, I'd even settle for a nice polo shirt, like the one that everyone on Apple's BSD team has.

Posted at 02:56 AM | Disclaimer

Roll Call reports that a

Roll Call reports that a poll from this past Thursday shows Frank Lautenberg leading Doug Forrester 44% to 33% in the New Jersey Senate campaign. I'm not particularly pleased with the events that led to Lautenberg being on the ballot, but now that that's happened, I'm very happy to see him with a large lead. The country can't afford to have the Democrats lose that seat.

Of course, I wonder what would have happened if the poll had Lautenberg leading 65-25 or something like that. Would Forrester have claimed that he couldn't win and dropped out to be replaced by Tom Kean?

Posted at 01:14 AM | Disclaimer

October 06, 2002

I've spent much of the

I've spent much of the weekend learning Cocoa, which is Apple's object-oriented framework. It's pretty easy -- it's just another language (Objective C) that's a lot like C and another framework. So far it feels a lot like what I imagine PowerPlant will feel like when its new modernized version is released, and a lot like what any object-oriented layer on top of modern Carbon is like. I'm sure there's something more powerful in it, but I'm only four chapters in on Aaron Hillegass' Cocoa Programming on Mac OS X so there's still a lot more for me to learn.

I should probably be encouraged, though, by the "challenge" section at the end of Chapter 4, which has "This is hard" at the end of the description. I wrote the code and compiled it without any errors, and the application ran perfectly the first time. It's really not all that hard....

Posted at 11:02 PM | Disclaimer

William Grosso describes Bil Lewis'

William Grosso describes Bil Lewis' Omniscient Debugger as "the best Java debugger I've ever seen." I haven't tried the debugger yet, but in reading the descriptions and the white paper, all I can say is "Wow." On a machine with enough resources, this could completely change the way programmers debug code. Breakpoints? Watchpoints? Don't need 'em. Just run your program, then go back in time to see what was happening when things broke.

Of course, the debugger is still under development. I hope Bil will find the time to bring it farther along, and better yet, the funding to bring it to market.

Posted at 03:41 AM | Disclaimer

October 05, 2002

I just discovered that Rick

I just discovered that Rick Holzgrafe and Semicolon Software are bringing Solitaire Till Dawn to Mac OS X. That's great news -- I spent a lot of time playing some of the games in Solitaire Till Dawn years ago, and I'm glad to see that it's alive and well.
Posted at 09:42 PM | Disclaimer

The Anaheim Angels beat the

The Anaheim Angels beat the Yankees today to advance to the AL League Championship Series. "The Empire Strikes Out", says ESPN's baseball page. I couldn't be happier. I'm not an Angels fan -- though you can't help but cheer this year's team -- but it's very, very satisfying to see the Yankees lose.
Posted at 06:27 PM | Disclaimer

I wonder why nobody has

I wonder why nobody has written a script that would export CVS logs as an RSS feed yet. It'd be great to be able to scan through the latest changes to OpenDarwin, GCC, etc. as they come in, instead of having to go to each project's web page and check to see if they've had any recent changes.
Posted at 05:14 PM | Disclaimer

A number of people tend

A number of people tend to be under the impression that all Unix platforms are essentially the same. After all, standards such as POSIX and the Single UNIX Specification should ensure that conforming implementations all have the same behavior, right?

Of course, things aren't that easy. I've spent a lot of time over the past year dealing with obscure but critical implementation differences between a variety of difference Unix platforms, and I'm continually amazed by the kinds of things I've run into. At the same time, one of the great things about open source software is the ease with which I can verify problems, report them, and get them fixed.

Case in point: Yesterday I noticed that SA_SIGINFO signal handlers and pthreads don't mix on OpenBSD. Specifically, if you're using pthreads and you try to look at the additional information about signals that SA_SIGINFO signal handlers get, the information is garbage. This makes writing advanced signal handlers impossible -- you can't get information about the context in which the signal was raised, for example.

Stuck, I packaged up a bug report with a minimal test case and sent it off to the OpenBSD bug report list. The initial support for SA_SIGINFO signal handlers went into OpenBSD five years ago, so I expected that my bug report would be ignored for a while because nobody in the past five years seems to have complained about the problem.

I was completely shocked, then, to get mail from Theo de Raadt two minutes after I mailed in my bug report. Theo is the founder and lead developer of OpenBSD. Wow. He mentioned that they're aware of the problem and that someone on the project is working on a fix. A few hours later, the person working on the problem sent me mail to mention that he has a partial solution and hopes to have it completely fixed by next week. That's responsiveness for you. I'm very impressed.

Posted at 05:10 PM | Disclaimer

There are all kinds of

There are all kinds of frivolous arguments on both sides of the Torricelli case, but topping the list for frivolity is one described in a Philadelphia Inquirer article today. Apparently two New Jersey residents are claiming that because they have already voted in next month's election by absentee ballot, the New Jersey Supreme Court's decision that Frank Lautenberg can replace Torricelli on the ballot disenfranchises those voters.

This is just laughable. The ballots are being reprinted and they'll be sent out to all absentee voters with return postage already paid. So every absentee voter will still have the opportunity to vote, and anyone who has already submitted a ballot won't even have to pay for a second stamp to replace their original vote. The only conceivable disenfranchisement here is if an particular absentee voter could not conceivably submit his or her ballot after sometime early next week, in which case the reprinted ballots will arrive too late. That issue doesn't appear to be raised in the Republicans' arguments, however.

Posted at 02:09 AM | Disclaimer

October 04, 2002

Ed Felten points out Parts

Ed Felten points out Parts I and II of LawMeme's "Law School in a Nutshell" series. Anything on the law that has a section entitled "Cover Page: #!usr/bin/legal" has to be good.
Posted at 09:14 PM | Disclaimer

How is it that I

How is it that I didn't discover LawMeme before now?
Posted at 09:10 PM | Disclaimer

Kevin Van Vechten just wrote

Kevin Van Vechten just wrote a terrific How to Write a DarwinPorts Portfile piece on opendarwin.org. It's an incredibly easy process, which helps explain why there's been so much traffic on the DarwinPorts mailing list in the past few days.
Posted at 12:43 AM | Disclaimer

October 03, 2002

O'Reilly's onjava.com has an article

O'Reilly's onjava.com has an article on Java's new NIO API, introduced in JDK 1.4. I have to say I'm very, very impressed with what NIO adds. If developers take advantage of it, certain applications that were never possible in Java now will be able to be written, and other applications will now perform much better. It looks like Sun did a really good job here.

Of course, putting the "new I/O" APIs in the java.nio package might not have been the best of ideas. I'm not sure what they'll do five or ten years from now when there's a need for another new I/O API set -- java.nnio? I guess Sun will worry about that when it happens.

Posted at 10:43 PM | Disclaimer

Tim O'Reilly writes about progress

Tim O'Reilly writes about progress on the port of OpenOffice to Mac OS X. It sounds like the OpenOffice folks know what they need to do...basically, they need to do the same thing as Apple's Aqua look and feel for Java. In other words, they should really hire Lee Ann Rucker and be done with it. But Sun isn't willing to commit that much money to the project, I'm sure.
Posted at 08:45 PM | Disclaimer

Rob McNair-Huff mentions that it's

Rob McNair-Huff mentions that it's started to rain again in the Pacific Northwest. The difference between him and me? He's happy about the rain; I'm not.
Posted at 08:33 PM | Disclaimer

Ed Felten on "rights": "A

Ed Felten on "rights": "A 'right' is a legal entitlement -- something that the law says you are allowed to do. But the term is often misused to refer to something else."
Posted at 10:42 AM | Disclaimer

Rogue Amoeba's Audio Hijack looks

Rogue Amoeba's Audio Hijack looks really neat. I could use it to record the RealAudio streams of baseball games, for example. I'm guessing it works through Core Audio, which is Apple's audio architecture for Mac OS X. It's supposed to be a fantastic design, but I haven't seen too many applications take advantage of it yet. Hopefully Audio Hijack will inspire some others.
Posted at 10:35 AM | Disclaimer

October 02, 2002

Release notes for Eudora 5.2b10

Release notes for Eudora 5.2b10 are now online. It looks like I'll finally be able to move my PowerBook to Mac OS X 10.2 with this release of Eudora. Yay!
Posted at 09:04 PM | Disclaimer

I'm shocked -- AtAT has

I'm shocked -- AtAT has featured new episodes three days in a row. That's so unexpected that I actually missed yesterday's before now. Wow. I hope Jack and resident-Goddess-of-minutiae Katie manage to keep up the pace....
Posted at 08:37 PM | Disclaimer

Panic's Steven Frank has a

Panic's Steven Frank has a review of Danger's new HipTop, repackaged as the T-Mobile SideKick. It sounds like a terrific device...I'm very tempted to look at one. If this is the future of cell phones and wireless Internet access, I think we're in good shape.
Posted at 10:08 AM | Disclaimer

Seen in a signature on

Seen in a signature on an Apple mailing list a few days ago:

"Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first woman she meets, then teams up with three complete strangers to kill again." - TV listing for The Wizard of Oz in the Marin Paper

Posted at 02:29 AM | Disclaimer

October 01, 2002

A memo to anyone reading

A memo to anyone reading this who's in management:

Some projects are risks, and sometimes projects need to be cancelled. It happens. That's life. But when the time comes when you need to cancel a project and throw out work that people have put months of their lives into, do them a favor and give them an explanation. It doesn't have to be an explanation that they'll agree with, but avoiding giving a reason at all makes the decision seem capricious and makes their work seem unimportant. Nobody appreciates being told that they're unimportant.

Better yet, if you made a mistake and let a project go almost all the way to completion before you kill it for reasons unrelated to how well it works, apologize. Show some remorse -- hopefully genuine, but if you can fake it well, that'll do just fine. That won't get the work that went into the project to matter, but it'll at least show that you understand that your employees put a lot of effort into their work, and that it's a shame for that effort to not result in something that ships.


Posted at 11:15 PM | Disclaimer

John Gruber says, "NetNewsWire has

John Gruber says, "NetNewsWire has all the makings of becoming a killer app. Is there a single Mac-oriented weblog that hasnât yet sung its praises?"

Well, whether this blog is Mac-oriented or not can be debated, but I'm afraid I have been lax in my responsibility to laud NNW as an incredibly terrific application. John's commentary is well worth reading -- I agree with everything he says about how NetNewsWire has changed the way I read the Web, and also changed the sites that I read. It's a great program that just keeps getting better and better. I can't wait to be able to pay for it.

Posted at 12:02 AM | Disclaimer